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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Culnan tapped as new AD at Shen

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Culnan tapped as new AD at Shen

At a special board meeting held Tuesday morning, Christopher Culnan was selected from more than 20 applicants and named director of athletics and physical education at Shenendehowa, effective Aug. 1, replacing outgoing athletic director, Matt Jones.

Jones resigned as athletic director on April 17, and was then appointed as a tenured physical education teacher during the same meeting.

“Culnan is a seasoned administrator and a main part of the athletic director role is to provide leadership for that department,” Shenendehowa Superintendent Dr. L. Oliver Robinson said. “We want to ensure that athletic and academics remain connected at all times. We believe in the student athlete and I believe Chris’s years of experience as an administrator and coach were key.”

Culnan has held the position of class assistant principal at Shenendehowa since September 2005. Before that he was an assistant principal at Rensselaer City Schools and Christian Brothers Academy; a history department chairperson at CBA; and also a history teacher at CBA and Guilderland Central School District.

He coached varsity basketball at Rensselear High School and junior varsity basketball, freshmen basketball, varsity golf and varsity tennis at CBA.
Culnan has a bachelor's degree in history from the State University of New York at Cortland, a master's degree in curriculum development and instructional technology from the University of Albany and a certificate of advanced studies in educational administration and policy from the University of Albany.

Robinson said he believes that his administrators should not be coaches.
“With the demands of being an effective administrator, our goal is that they are in a situation in which they can be successful,” Robinson said. “If someone is trying to do both, something is going to give.”
“There is a movement within the school district for this change,” Robinson said. “The new athletic director is an outgrowth of that.”

Jones, whose has been a coach with the Shenendehowa cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams since he came to the district in the spring of 1997, said he doesn’t agree with the administration’s position.

“Someone got it in their head that the AD job is too big and they shouldn’t coach,” Jones said. “Why was it good for nine or 10 years without a negative evaluation? Why is it no longer any good? I don’t fully understand it.”

Both Jones and Robinson said Jones was not forced to give up the AD position and that the decision to resign was Jones.

“I played what was my best option, to be teaching and coaching, rather than continue on,” Jones said. “Even though it was a rigorous schedule, I had done it for nine or 10 years and I was looking to do it for three or four more.”

Currently, the only administrator at Shenendehowa who remains a coach is the head of the math department, Dan D’Amboise. He is the golf coach in the fall and the softball coach in the spring. D’Amboise is approaching retirement age and it is believed he will remain in his two position for the next two years.

“As we look to hire people administrators we make it clear to them that they are fully focused on their tasks as administrators,” Robinson said. “We want to provide support for our current people as they transition out, we want to be fair to people first.”

Jones said he will miss his job as the face of the Shenendehowa athletic department.
“The reason I went into the job was that I wanted to do whatever I could for kids, coaches and teachers,” Jones said. “I wanted to help them do their job.”

Jones will now transition into a role that he has helped cultivate at Shenendehowa, educators who are also coaches.
“Principals want people in their building more,” Jones said. “We always look for people who are teachers first, as well as coaches. That is the right model. People from the outside don’t have the educational background and they often aren’t credentialed to deal with students and student athletes.”

Culnan will oversee a program with more than 100 coaches and 79 athletic teams along with an ever-shrinking list of available facilities.

“I think a focus will be on facility improvement and facility advancement,” Robinson said. “We are adding more sports and different types of sports and we need to address that. We need the appropriate facilities for that.”
“We need to look at, as a district, expanding our modified programs and give options for younger kids,” Robinson said. “We have so many kids trying out for a sport and we have a limited pool to place them in. We need to try to create more intramural options.”


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